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Allison+Partners report suggests a shift from car culture to mobility culture

A new report from Allison+Partners, a global marketing and communications agency, suggests that changing definitions of transportation and an influx of new mobility solutions are paving the way for the birth of a new culture—the mobility culture.

Resulting from the intersection of transportation and technology, this cultural shift will be driven forward by the new generation of consumers just now coming of driving/ride-sharing age.

Much in the way Baby Boomers in their teens and twenties defined American car culture, Gen Z will ultimately become synonymous with mobility culture, the PR firm says. The study, “The Birth of Mobility Culture,” also explores implications for brand marketers as consumer values shift from “me” to “we” and access to new mobility options increase.

The report, based on a survey of US consumers fielded in January 2019, reveals a clear shift in consumer attitudes, values and behaviors between generations and with more transportation options available than ever before.

Key findings that highlight this shift include:

  • Cars remain at the center of today’s transportation equation, but how they’re used is changing. While roughly 70% of licensed Americans drive their vehicles daily, 38% of those without a driver’s license say they have no need for one. With Gen Z, the numbers become even more significant—nearly 70% of Gen Z respondents do not have their driver’s license and 30% of those who do not currently possess their driver’s license have no intention or desire to get one.

  • Car culture shifts from “me” to “we.” Younger generations, including Gen Z, have begun to see automotive benefits that move beyond convenience to relaxation and social experiences. When asked why they would purchase an autonomous vehicle, Gen Z consumers cited relaxation as a primary factor (65%)—almost equal to convenience (67%).

  • Technology and transportation have become synonymous. The excitement for autonomous technologies is driven by Gen Z, due largely to a high trust level with technology. Ultimately, 60% believe they will use autonomous vehicles by 2029.

Not only will the car itself change drastically with the advent of new technology and mobility solutions, but its role in our lives and in culture will also evolve. Our automotive practice was born out of an authentic passion for disruptive brands that are redefining mobility, with a deep understanding that the most important attributes of transportation for consumers are trust and loyalty.

—Marcus Gamo, Senior Vice President and Automotive Specialty Group Lead at Allison+Partners

The report also reveals that despite changing American consumer values and behaviors, brands remain more relevant than ever. For marketers, however, the introduction of this new mobility culture will require a revamped approach to effectively garner consumer loyalty and advocacy:

  • Reinforce how technology enhances the experience. With consumers conditioned to expect technology innovation at a faster rate than the traditional new vehicle introduction timeline, it’s important for marketers to reinforce how technology features enhance the ride experience, contribute to vehicle safety and support a future where transportation options come together in concert.

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the shift from “me” to “we.” It will be more important to underscore the benefits of a particular mobility option to communities of people (such as a city, university or corporate campus), rather than to just individual drivers.

  • Focus on building relationships during the journey, not at the finish line. Younger consumers value authentic relationships with brands, and it takes time to foster that trust. Understand their values, what advancements in automotive technology excite them and, equally important, their concerns about the future of mobility. Use this information to inform how to communicate and engage with them about your brand.

  • Consider new avenues for introducing mobility options. The traditional auto show has been the core of how automakers, motorcycle brands, RV makers and others have introduced new vehicles to a rabid group of automotive enthusiasts. Due to this shift in values and attitudes, marketers must now plan for more values-based, communal and experiential local market activations, where influencers help create and share the story and consumers can experience brand value in a real and authentic way.

As consumer relationships with cars evolve, automotive and transportation industry marketers must change how they engage with younger audiences, especially Gen Z.

—Lisa Rosenberg, Co-Chair of Allison+Partners’ Consumer Marketing practice

Allison+Partners compiled this report using data from an online survey of 1,035 people in the US over the age of 16 conducted in January 2019. Fielding was conducted using the Qualtrics Insights Platform and the panel was sourced from Lucid.

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